Ultra Racing Archives

Event Report- The Millennium Way Ultra

There was no doubt about it- I was completely lost. Approaching checkpoint three my route description had finally succumbed to the relentless showers and had disintegrated into a soggy illegible pulp, and now I had taken the wrong exit out of the field.

Instead of arriving at the checkpoint marquee on the playing field at Yoxall I was faced with unfamiliar roads and had absolutely no idea how to get back on track. I looked at my watch- 5:03pm. I knew that the checkpoint closing time was 5:05pm and I had no way of finding it in time. It was looking horribly like my race was over… panicking I forced my tired body into a shambling jog- but I wasn’t even sure I was running in the right direction…

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Getting closer…

I cannot believe we are more than halfway through February already… is anyone else convinced that the years are actually getting shorter?

Of course, every day that passes brings me closer to the challenges I have booked- starting with the Millennium Ultra on 4th March- less than two weeks!

Now I first attempted this event a couple of years ago. All of the other entrants appeared to be serious ultra runner types who left me for dust in a matter of seconds. I trotted along at the back, eventually catching up with a couple in Stafford just after the first checkpoint. We walked/ ran for a little while but the chap had hurt his knee when he twisted it in the mud and was finding it increasingly painful so they decided to retire at checkpoint two.

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Here’s To 2014!!

2014The chocolates are finished, the cards are in the recycling bin and the tree has been unceremoniously shoved back into the under stairs cupboard for another year… and so now is the time to turn our thoughts towards 2014 and the adventures that the year has in store…

I do love this time of year. It is a perfect period for pausing and taking stock of the year that has passed, and making plans for the year to come.

So without further ado here are my plans for the coming shiny New Year;

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The Marathon des Sables… Could You Do It?

Marathon des SablesSo- want to do the Marathon des Sables, but wondering whether it may be too tough? Could you actually do it?

There’s no doubt that the MdS is a serious undertaking and one which should not be contemplated lightly. You will need to train- this is not a race you can blag unless you have a very good level of running and walking fitness. I am not exactly the greatest endurance athlete in the world, but I trained gradually over two years.

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Happy Shiny New 2013!!!

Endurance AdventuresI love the start of a New Year. Although change can happen at any time in your life, there’s something special about January 1st that marks the threshold of a new chapter in your life- a feeling of starting again and making real progress in the 12 months now ahead of you…

So- have you got your endurance adventures planned out for 2013? What races will you do, what challenge events will you complete, what ultras will see you sweating through all manner of terrain, what personal challenges will you meet?

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Marathon des Sables- After The Race

100_2654All that was left was our final night in the desert and then boarding the coaches back to  Ouarzazate. I felt even worse next day and had to abandon attempts to be part of the giant ‘24’ to celebrate the 24th Marathon des Sables and allow myself to be frogmarched back to the tent by my friend as I was about to lose consciousness. The diarrhoea had cleared up but I felt really sick and ached all over.

As we waited to board the coaches many of the officials set off the spare flares and the sky was filled with little pink lights. I picked one up- it looked just like a plug attached to a parachute.

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Marathon des Sables Stage Four; Aferdou Nsooualhine to Tizin Igrs- 26.2 Miles

After finally being able to force my eyes open the stark truth hit me. I wasn’t feeling at all good. In fact I felt actually ill- completely lacking in energy and rather sick. This did not bode at all well for the day ahead and I lay there, desperately summoning the energy to a) get out of my sleeping bag and b) get ready to walk 26.2 miles over sand and rock to finish the 2009 Marathon des Sables.

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Marathon des Sables Stage Three; The Longest Day

Marathon des Sables Stage Three; Erg Znaigui to Aferdou Nsooalhine- 57 Miles

I scrabbled up the slab of rock in front of me, rising like a broken tooth out of the darkness. I had lost all trace of the route and had no idea where I was, I only knew that I had to climb this mountain, but I was so very tired and my ability to balance had completely deserted me…

Head swimming from fatigue and loss of balance I reached for the top, feeling the rough stone beneath my hands- only to see yet another slab rise up in front of me. My foot slipped and I heard a rock dislodge and tumble down into the inky blackness. I had lost my friend and there was nobody else in sight. I knew the most sensible thing would be to descend but the only though my brain was capable of processing was to keep ascending… if I reached the top then surely I’d be able to see the glow sticks marking the route and get back on track…

I reached the top of the next slab only to see a sheer wall rise in front of me. This was it. I was lost- my race was surely over. After two years of preparation, hard training and the disappointment of the floods, the Marathon des Sables had beaten me. I started to cry- tears of fear and frustration.

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Marathon des Sables Stage Two; Erg Znaigui to Erg Znaigui 22 miles

I was absolutely freezing. I had no idea what time it was but the sky was still dark and the bivouac lay silent. I lay there desperately trying to get back to sleep, but there was no chance; the wind was blowing straight through both open ends of the tent, whipping round my ears and down my neck. I pulled my buff up over my face and tried to snuggle down into my sleeping bag to preserve as much precious heat as possible, and lay there, miserably waiting for dawn.

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Marathon des Sables Stage One; Erg Chebbi to Erg Znaigui- 19.5 Miles

I lay in bed feeling a tinge of excitement and more than a tinge of nervousness. This was it- after two years of preparation, floods, torrential rain, mud and disappointment we were actually going to start the Marathon des Sables!!

As we waited for the coaches to arrive to take us to the start I was relieved to see that it was a nice day- sunny and dry but not overbearingly hot and more importantly no clouds in sight. Oddly enough, I had mixed feelings about this- the cooler weather would make for easier walking, but I felt that we weren’t going to be as challenged by the heat as we should have been and wondered whether I would feel cheated as a result.

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